The last time Mark Cavendish won on the Champs-Élysées, he was given a golden leadout by Bradley Wiggins in the yellow jersey. That was his third victory of 2012 in his only year at Team Sky, a deluxe add-on to their first Tour de France triumph.
Ten years on, Wiggins might not be riding - he is now a Eurosport/GCN pundit - but Cavendish still is, and has won 11 stages since 2012. Last summer he won four, equalling Eddy Merckx's record of 34 in the process; he also won the green jersey, his second.
Despite this, it is looking unlikely that the Manx Missile will line up in Copenhagen next week for Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl. His team are thought to be heading there with Fabio Jakobsen instead, with the man 12 years his junior seen as the better fit by the team.
Earlier this year, Cavendish said that reports of a rivalry between him and Jakobsen over a Tour de France spot were "lazy", but it is thought to be a toss-up between the pair for a place in Quick-Step's team.
“My assumption is that Mark’s probably not going,” Wiggins said in a press conference on Thursday.
"Patrick [Lefevere] knows what he’s doing but from a personal point of view, it would be a real shame if Cav’s not there,” he added.
Wiggins and Cavendish only spent two separate seasons on the same cycling team, at High Road in 2008 and then Team Sky in 2012, but have a close bond forged through British Cycling. The pair competed together on the track in the Madison, winning the World Championship race together in 2016.
This year, Cavendish has won four races, including a stage of the Giro d'Italia, while Jakobsen has won on ten occasions, and is thought to be the team's choice for the Tour, although the Quick-Step squad has not been announced yet.
“We’ve not got the argument that he shouldn’t go based on what he did last year and any other team would be crazy not to bring him to the Tour,” Wiggins said.
“He’s just won a stage in the Giro and I do find it hard, aside from the personal relationship that I have with him, if I look at it from a performance point of view, as to why you wouldn’t take him as part of a sponsor point of view, the impact that he has on the rest of the team, and the fact that he won four stages and the green jersey last year.
"Why wouldn’t you take the defending green jersey back to the team? I can’t see anyone in that team who would merit going ahead of him. It’s a strange thing.”
This year's Tour is not exceptionally sprinter-friendly, with many of the flatter stages coming with the potential of crosswinds and chaos, and very few flat finishes too.
The race begins in Copenhagen next Friday.
Bradley Wiggins will be back on the race motorbike providing regular updates from inside the peloton for discovery+, GCN+ and Eurosport. There will also be regular episodes of 'The Bradley Wiggins Show' podcast throughout the race. Every stage of the Tour de France will be live across discovery+, GCN+ and Eurosport in the UK. Territory restrictions may apply in your region.
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